The top staffer for Nashville’s new civilian board overseeing police has resigned, saying he was under too much stress to continue.
The decision comes in the midst of a tense, monthslong negotiation process between the Metro Nashville Police Department and the oversight board over a written agreement intended to solidify the relationship between the two groups.
Executive director William Weeden handed in his resignation to the Community Oversight Board Monday afternoon, effective immediately. Weeden and Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson have repeatedly butted heads during closed-door talks. That hostility came to light in a series of emails published on the COB’s website ahead of a recent board meeting.
Weeden had been in the position less than a year. The COB will need to launch a search to fill his position, but Chair Ashlee Davis told WPLN changes in leadership will not stymie the group.
“It doesn’t stop us or slow us down,” she said after a COB executive team meeting Monday evening. “We can only take the words of what Mr. Weeden has shared with us as the reason for his decision to resign. However, to be very frank with you, we have to move forward. I mean, we owe it to the citizens of Nashville.”
Assistant director Jill Fitcheard will take Weeden’s place in the interim.
Weeden was chosen to lead the newly formed oversight group’s Metro staff in April, after spending eight years investigating allegations of police misconduct in Chicago. Before that, the Fisk University graduate worked as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney.
Weeden declined to comment.
He and Chief Anderson have repeatedly sparred over a memorandum of understanding that is supposed to lay out how the COB and Metro Police work together. Anderson has argued that there’s no need for a formal agreement between the two parties.
Weeden and Anderson have also shifted blame over a misunderstanding this past summer regarding emergency notifications when a critical incident, like a police-involved shooting, occurs. Weeden raised concerns after COB members and staff weren’t immediately notified when a civilian was shot by an officer downtown in July.
Weeden said Anderson should have directed the Department of Emergency Communications to put the COB in the loop. Anderson, however, said Weeden could have taken care of setting the system up himself.
“It seems unreasonable that you would expect to hold MNPD officers accountable for their actions or failure to act, yet you will not hold yourself accountable,” Anderson wrote in an email on October 18. “Your failure to hold yourself accountable tends to undermine any confidence our officers might have in your ability to be fair and impartial as you judge them.”
Board members have also criticized Weeden for failing to share information about his staff’s progress. At a board meeting last month, Davis read a letter she’d written to the director warning him of “unsatisfactory job performance.” She cited a lack of communication with board members, as well as late and error-filled reports and meeting minutes.
But Davis said she was surprised by Weeden’s decision to resign. She said they’d been regularly sharing emails back and forth and had six weeks’ worth of meetings scheduled.
“It is regretful,” she said. “But again, the work must continue.”
Samantha Max is a Report for America corps member.